Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects (such as stars, planets, comets, nebulae, star clusters and galaxies) and phenomena that originate outside the Earth's atmosphere (such as the cosmic background radiation). It is concerned with the evolution, physics, chemistry, meteorology, and motion of celestial objects, as well as the formation and development of the universe.
Astronomy is an ever evolving and improving science. It is the oldest science in the world. Early cultures performed methodical observations of the night sky to decide when to plant and what the best day was for a celebration. The invention of the telescope propelled astronomy into a modern science, before that it was mostly theory and astrology combined. In modern times, the field of astronomy has split into observational and theoretical branches. Observational astronomy is focused on acquiring data from observations of celestial objects, which is then analyzed using basic principles of physics. Theoretical astronomy is oriented towards the development of computer or analytical models to describe astronomical objects and phenomena. The two fields complement each other, with theoretical astronomy seeking to explain the observational results,
and observations being used to confirm theoretical results.
Significant advances in astronomy came about with the introduction of new technology, including the spectroscope and photography. Fraunhofer discovered about 600 bands in the spectrum of the Sun in 1814–15, which, in 1859, Kirchhoff ascribed to the presence of different elements. Stars were proven to be similar to the Earth's own Sun, but with a wide range of temperatures, masses, and sizes.